Note: This is not anything official, merely my own thoughts on the matter given what we know so far. Do not take any of this as being official or from Wargaming.
As of now, we know several things about the upcoming light tank changes, namely that the existing tier 8 light tanks are being bumped up to tier 9 (with the exception of the Chinese who are getting a new tier 9 light tank), that new tier 10 light tanks are being added, and that given that aside from the Chinese light line remaining unchanged, the other lines are going to need to be changed in some fashion, both with new vehicles other than the tier 10, as well as with existing tanks being bumped up a tier.
This isn’t much to go on in most cases, as while there are candidates that could be added to some light lines, like say the French getting the ELC EVEN or the AMX-13/Chaffee hybrid and most of the tanks bumped up a tier, for others it’s a different story. We can infer something though from the Chinese light line staying the same, namely that the US M5 Stuart isn’t going anywhere. It is undeniably weaker than its Chinese counterpart, and I’d like to think that not even Wargaming would be dumb enough to dumb enough to bump it up to tier 5 while leaving the more powerful Chinese version a tier 4.
We do have some other information to go on though, although i daresay it’s probably been overlooked by some people. Currently, there are two premium tier 7 US lights in supertest that are also in the live client as well, the T92 Light Tank, and the T71 CMCD. The T92 Light Tank was last brought up online in September of 2016, having been re-added to the game (it existed long ago in the files before being removed for several years), while the T71 CMCD was forgotten about for even longer, having last been brought up in April of 2016. But this does give us something to work with.
Since the two vehicles are both tier 7s, we can conclude that all US lights at tiers 7 and 8 are going to be bumped up a tier. This allows for the T92 Light Tank to be slotted in between the T37 Light Tank and the M41 Walker Bulldog, and the T71 CMCD to be slotted in between the T21 and the T71. Before we get into the tier 6 lights and the nerf hammer that the T37 will get, I will say that yes, the T92 Light Tank, much like the T71, was designed to replace the M41 in service. So it’s technically newer than the vehicle it precedes. This is nothing new for Wargaming, as the tier 10 German light, the Rheinmetall Spähpanzer 57, is older than the RU 251, the UDES 03 is newer than the Strv 103 by a decade or so, etc. So don’t expect this to phase Wargaming in any way.
Anyway, the tier 6 T37 is going to need some nerfs, and there is a way to do that. Historically, the T37 Phase I used the 76mm T94, which is one of the grinding guns on the T37. The T37 Phase II used the 76mm T91 (identical to the 76mm T185), and it’s this Phase II configuration that was renamed T41. (In fact, the Phase III version is where the M41 Walker Bulldog gets its autoloader from, although this version was canceled because of the Korean War) So the 76mm T91 would then become a grinding gun (most likely keeping its current stats) on the T92 Light Tank, while the T37 would feature the 76mm T94 as its top cannon.
When it comes to the T21 Light, the vehicle is already far behind its T37 brother at tier 6, so it really doesn’t need any nerfs to work as a tier 6. I would also expect the new T71 at tier 8 to perform fine with only a few minor tweaks to what it is now.
So these new light lines would look as follows:
This brings up two questions then, what about the medium/heavy line? And what can be done about the top tiers for the T71 light tank line. The answer to the first is simple, either the T69 is going to come off of the T92 Light and/or the T71 CMCD, or, and there is a historical link to this, the T69 can come sideways off of the M41 Walker Bulldog. The T69 is based on the T42 Medium Tank, which in turn was based on the T41 Light Tank, so this kind of connection is historical.
The answer to the second question, is also surprisingly easy. For tier 9, Detroit Arsenal made a model of a 90mm armed version of the T71, from early on in the project’s life before the 76mm was standardized:
This features an oscillating turret just like the normal Detroit Arsenal T71, and would be comparable to the AMX-13 90. For tier 10, there’s this thing:
This is the TMG, and is armed with a 105mm cannon, also in an oscillating turret, on a hull very similar in shape and size to the T71 projects. The TMG was a Cadillac proposal from 1955, and was part of a much larger proposal for multiple different light tanks using both conventional and oscillating turrets. The very similar TME had a version with an oscillating turret and a 90mm cannon as well, so if Wargaming wants the tier 10 to have two gun options, this would work too.
So the new line would look as follows:
So there you have it, my speculation on how the new US light lines are going to look sometime in the near future, as well as how to finish off the “autoloader” US light line with new vehicles. Thoughts, comments?
Sheridan: A History of the American Light Tank, Volume 2 – R.P. Hunnicutt